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October 19, 2005 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Those crazy Scientologists are at it again. This time, a New Zealand website owner has been ordered to relinquish his clever domain name, scienTOMogy.info under threat of legal action. The site, an ugly-looking collection of links to other Scientology-debunking websites, serves as a clearinghouse for information about one of the church's most notorious members, Tom Cruise. CoS claims the domain is similar enough to their official website address to be confusing to Internet users.
posted by wakko (42 comments total)

 
If This site can still exist (it has since the Clinton administration), there's not reason for scientomogy.info to worry.
posted by psmealey at 4:29 PM on October 19, 2005


What really bugs me is how often companies (and churches, in this case) get away with the assumption that Internet users are incapable of telling two very obviously different websites apart.
posted by wakko at 4:30 PM on October 19, 2005


I'm interested what law would apply here. The registrant is in New Zealand; the hosting company is in New Jersey; the registrar is in Washington state and the .info NIC is in Eire.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:36 PM on October 19, 2005


Pretty_Generic: I'd guess it would be trivial to serve the hosting company a DMCA threat to stop them from hosting?
posted by lazy-ville at 4:39 PM on October 19, 2005


how often companies (and churches, in this case)

Scientology is a business and not a church, because churches don't deny what they believe in. Churches have the aim of spreading the Word; Scientology has the aim of flat-out lying about the existence of the Word until you've paid them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:41 PM on October 19, 2005


lazy-ville: maybe, but it seems to me that it's the domain name that's in question, not the site content. So it's actually the registrar who's doing the theoretical infringing and not the hosting company.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:42 PM on October 19, 2005


That'd be fine, but then he could just move the registration info to an offshore registrar like OzNIC or joker.com. That would, in turn, set off another wave of lawsuits.
posted by wakko at 4:42 PM on October 19, 2005


OT3

This site has bizarrely removed pages 6 and 15-20; I would be very grateful for anyone who could find them and forward them to me so I can hand them out outside my local clamfarm.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:46 PM on October 19, 2005


P_G: I presume the CoS is bringing action under the Uniform domain name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP; more here). Complaints can be filed with any approved dispute resolution service provider, including the World Intellectual Property Organization.
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:46 PM on October 19, 2005


wakko, I don't think it has anything to do with the assumption that idiots can't discern between satire and the official site (even though I've met enough dolts to make me mildly skeptical). This is just B.S. strongarm tactics because organizations like this don't want to be challenged in any spectrum. And as usual, organizations like this don't realize they are driving more traffic to that site than the proprietors could have ever hoped to. Thanks Scientology!!

You have to figure, a lot of idiots have coughed up 10 grand to get to the final level, of course only to find out an Alien is behind the whole thing. With all that booty, they can hire alot of human lawyers - as if they should need them. I mean, can't the aliens take care of a simple problem like this?
posted by j.p. Hung at 4:47 PM on October 19, 2005


The policy basis for trademarks is that a society has to avoid consumer confusion. That is, people develop trademarks and trade dress so that a consumer can see it and know what they are getting. Thus, when I walk into a store and see that Coca-cola label, I know what I am getting. The same with the Intel Inside label or the colorful Taco Cabana.

If we allow people to try to profit off of a another person's trademark, there is often consumer confusion, so the consumer doesn't get what it wants. It also dilutes the mark and wastes the effort the company put into branding. People often think the Trademark is for the corporation's benefit. But the policy behind it is to protect the consumer. Corporations invest a lot to create good will and identification so that consumers will trust the brand, but in the end, it is a consumer-focused concept.

One exception to this is often parody. The idea being that there is fair use, and if you aren't trying actually market off the the trademark or trade dress, we aren't going to stop its use.

The issue of avoiding consumer confusion is interesting in the digital world. I am no expert on it, but I know there has been quite a few cases on fights over trademarks on the internet.

It presents an interesting thought. We make Prado bags illegal because it violates trademark of Prada, and a person could be duped into thinking it was made by Prada (of course, some people want it for that reason!). And maybe this scientomogy.info might confuse consumers into thinking that the Scientology was behind it. Which illicits the question of whether Scientology is a brand and if this guy is marketing off of it?
posted by dios at 4:49 PM on October 19, 2005


And maybe this scientomogy.info might confuse consumers into thinking that the Scientology was behind it.

Despite the page title and opening paragraph saying that it isn't. Right.

YOU ARE A FUCKING MORON

(Not you dios.)
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:04 PM on October 19, 2005


schoolgirl report: that's a method they might use to shut the site down, but I don't see how it comes with any legal penalties for the registrant. They'll probably have to fight him in a New Zealand court. That, I would like to see. :)
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:07 PM on October 19, 2005


Pretty_Generic : "Scientology is a business and not a church, because churches don't deny what they believe in. Churches have the aim of spreading the Word; Scientology has the aim of flat-out lying about the existence of the Word until you've paid them hundreds of thousands of dollars."

While I can't attest to whether churches deny what they believe in, or whether churches necessarily have the aim of spreading the Word, that isn't necessarily true for religions. Esoteric religions have existed in many cultures, and are aimed at keeping the Word secret.

Just a technical point. I certainly don't consider Scientology an "esoteric religion", but a "biznicult".
posted by Bugbread at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2005


On the "church" thing: it's only the "church" of scientology in NA for the convenience of tax free status. It will take whatever form is most convenient in it's adopted locale. I have heard (though don't know the accuracy of this hearsay) that they established themselves as a "philosophical society" in Greece.
posted by The Thnikkaman at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2005


It seems to me, surely, that the internet is killing Scientology. How can an organisation based on secrecy and long-term brainwashing survive when Google produces this?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2005


I'm not doing any "outing" here - you guys are quite capable of doing your own sleuthing - but do check out this guys own vanity site ...
*chuckles*
posted by Catch at 5:15 PM on October 19, 2005


Well that maybe so, but certain social movements are thriving in the Net age.

Such as Dominionism.
posted by troutfishing at 5:15 PM on October 19, 2005


do check out this guys own vanity site

┬┐que?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:18 PM on October 19, 2005


I don't see that Dominionism is based on secrecy.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:19 PM on October 19, 2005


Have I mentioned lately that I think $cientology is evil bullshit too?
posted by davy at 5:28 PM on October 19, 2005


Don't know why Catch was being coy. Stollery's site.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 5:35 PM on October 19, 2005


I'd just like to say that I'd worship the Prophets before ol' L. Ron.

+10 points if you get that reference without Google.

-10 to me for making it in the first place.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:41 PM on October 19, 2005


Zed_lopez: because: "it seems the local chapter of the Co$ has decided to begin a non stop barrage of phone calls, emails, and visits to my home - at any hour day or night."
It didn't seem sporting to me to post it.

But hey, thanks for showing us all your w1ck3d google-fu! I am impressed! You win!
posted by Catch at 5:49 PM on October 19, 2005


I guess they'll just move the whole shebang to Germany.

Funny that Germany should play the role of the last outpost of freedom.
posted by spazzm at 6:00 PM on October 19, 2005


+10 points if you get that reference without Google.

-10 to me for making it in the first place.


-10000000 to anyone awarding fictious and pointless points in internet forums.

Oh, wait...
posted by spazzm at 6:02 PM on October 19, 2005


Which illicits the question of whether Scientology is a brand and if this guy is marketing off of it?

It's a damn fine question, and in any other circumstance--say, if it was Methodists behind the C&D, or another religion--it would be worth debating. But it's rumored that Scientology has a policy of utterly destroying (fiancially, reputationally, any lly really) those who are active in their opposition to the church. The enthetas.

The Church generally uses some form or threat of legal action to do this, betting that many people (and quite a few other entities) can't afford capable law services. If the entity doesn't capitulate under threats and there's a hearing, anonymous sources told me the church will try to extend that engagement as long as possible. Plus, I've heard they try to smear your name and turn friends and family against you. (who knows how?)

So asking if their legal bramble is valid is like asking if an ogre who's crushing your skull in with a mace is using the right tool.
posted by carsonb at 6:10 PM on October 19, 2005


Why not just have a site called Uncle L. Ron's Pseudoscientific Church of the Sacred Con-Game?

I mean, if that isn't a synonym what is?
posted by konolia at 6:14 PM on October 19, 2005


it's rumored that Scientology has a policy of utterly destroying

Fair Game
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:16 PM on October 19, 2005


Plus, I've heard they try to smear your name and turn friends and family against you. (who knows how?)

Common is the story of a private investigator being hired by CoS to delve into your past and learn about your current situation. Suddenly, folks start picketing you outside your apartment or workplace with very personal information written on their placards.
posted by wakko at 6:20 PM on October 19, 2005


Who knows how? Go read A Piece of Blue Sky and find out. They'll do anything -- they've killed people's pets, they've spread fliers throughout people's neighbourhoods claiming the subject is a pedophile, they've told lies to their employer to have them fired, and they've driven people to suicide.

The people who run scientology are among the most vile scum walking the face of this planet.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:32 PM on October 19, 2005


Which illicits the question...
Well, it's against the law right there. Naughty, even.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:48 PM on October 19, 2005


Arriving at l. ron hoovers modernistic office / cathedral / warehouse / condominium complex, joe is greeted by a pre-recorded message and a dramatically illuminated image on a wall-sized tv screen.
.

L. ron hoover:
Welcome to the first church of appliantology! the white zone is for loading and unloading only!

Dont you be tarot-fied
Its just a token
Of my extreme
Dont you be tarot-fied
Its just a token
Of my extreme

Dont you never try to
Look behind my eyes
You dont wanna know
What they have seen
Dont you never try to
Look behind my eyes
You dont wanna know
What they have seen

Joe: (thinking to himself)
Some people think
That if they go too far
They'll never get back
To where the rest of
Them are
I might be crazy
But theres one thing
I know
You might be surprised
At what you find
When ya go!

And thus, having rationalized his expedition to L. Ron's modernistic office / cathedral / warehouse / condominium complex, joe seeks the answer to his problem...

Joe:
Oh oh oh
Mystical advisor
What is my problem,
Tell me
Can you see?

L. ron hoover:
Well, you have nothing
To fear, my son!
You are a latent
Appliance fetishist,
It appears to me!

Joe:
That all seems very,
Very strange
I never craved
A toaster
Or a color t.v.

L. ron hoover:
A latent appliance
Fetishist
Is a person who
Refuses to admit
To his or herself
That sexual
Gratification can
Only be achieved
Through the use of
Machines...
Get the picture?

Joe:
Are you telling me
I should come out
Of the closet now
Mr. ron?

L. ron hoover:
No, my son!
You must go into
The closet

Joe:
What?

L. ron hoover:
And you will have

Joe:
Heh?

L. ron hoover:
Hey!
A lot of fun!
Thats where
They all live
So if you want an
Appliance to love you
Youll have to
Go in there
n get you one

Joe:
Well...that seems
Simple enough...

L. ron hoover:
Yes, but if you want a
Really good one,
Youll have to learn a
Foreign language...

Joe:
German, for instance?

L. ron hoover:
Thats right...
A lot of really cute
Ones come from
Over there!
(fifty bucks, please)

And a cheerful group of
Appliantologists dance
Into the room wearing
Aluminum foil lab smocks,
Lock arms in a circle
Around joe, making sure
He pays in full, all the
While singing with L. Ron
As he delivers his final
Instructions...

L. ron hoover:
If you been
Mod-o-fied,
Its an illusion,
An yer in between
Dont you be
Tarot-fied,
Its just a lot of nothin,
So what can it mean?

If you been
Mod-o-fied,
Its an illusion,
An yer in between
Dont you be
Tarot-fied,
Its just a lot of nothin,
So what can it mean?

If you been
Mod-o-fied,
Its an illusion,
An yer in between...


Frank Zappa - A Token Of My Extreme
posted by shmegegge at 6:53 PM on October 19, 2005


But the goat swore he was single!
posted by davy at 8:10 PM on October 19, 2005


Post title: obscure clambake reference?
posted by Paragon at 11:01 PM on October 19, 2005


Staff members sacrifice their family life, their financial security and their careers to "Clear the planet."

Well staff members of a number of companies do almost the same , willy nilly and often not completely consciously, under the auspices of a religious interpretation of the free market economic theories.

It could be that *ology is just another interpretation (with a sci-fi spin) of the idea of convincing people that working for others' interests is the same as working for one own interest or that the end results are practically the same.

The same as telling, for instance, a phd in biology he/she is working to develop a cure for cancer ...while the interests he's working for don't want a cure that will put them out of need exploitation business
posted by elpapacito at 11:48 PM on October 19, 2005


Thanks shmegegge, I loves me some Joe's Garage.

There's not so much of a big difference between the Co$ and most organised religions to some people : some of us might think that this could easily be replaced by Captain Jesus and His Magic Zombie Sky Club. They both take your money and tell you everything will be great if you listen to them and only them. I personally prefer to inject heroin into the base of my penis* as, whilst it costs me money, it provides me with all the ecstasy I need right here, right now.

Yay for opiates!


*this is not actually true, my winky has only the requisite number of holes in it and I am not a fan of the tar.
posted by longbaugh at 6:29 AM on October 20, 2005


longbaugh : "There's not so much of a big difference between the Co$ and most organised religions to some people...They both take your money and tell you everything will be great if you listen to them and only them."

Perhaps the line between folks who think Co$ is worse than other religions and folks who think it's just equally bad is how much importance they place on the fact that the Co$ tries to keep its teachings secret, and most organized religions don't.
posted by Bugbread at 9:46 AM on October 20, 2005


CoS is worse than other religions because they do not let you leave. They will go to the ends of the earth to utterly destroy you if you quit the church and try to reveal its secrets.

Real religions are not evil in that manner.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:51 AM on October 20, 2005


I idly Googled the name of the lawyer for Co$ and was surprised at what I found...
posted by Vidiot at 4:52 PM on October 20, 2005


http://home.snafu.de/tilman/cos_fun/helena1.html

You mean like this?
posted by konolia at 7:55 PM on October 20, 2005


Why do I get to apply and remove her make up? I don't know. I do know that I had way more fun doing that than I should have for 5 minutes. Thanks konolia.
posted by longbaugh at 3:11 AM on October 21, 2005


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